Issue(s): Hulk #334
He's rescued by a helicopter, and there's a weird scene at wherever he's been dropped off where he notices a calendar pin-up girl who seems to have Betty's face.
When Bruce finally makes it back to Gamma base, he hears that Betty left to go to Ramon, so he heads into town accompanied by Rick. The story makes it clear that she and Ramon "just talked" all night long...
...and when Bruce shows up and sort-of demonstrates some emotion about her leaving him...
...she goes back to him. Ramon not being a total sexual predator seems to be a point in his favor, but he's nonetheless trashed as "someone like that". I don't know what to make of poor Ramon. John Byrne obviously didn't intend for him to be more than a symbol for Betty having fallen on hard times and i'm not sure what Peter David accomplishes by bringing him back.
Bruce and Betty then rent a room in the same sleazy motel for some afternoon nookie, but it turns out they forgot about Daylight Savings Time...
...and Betty is apparently badly injured as Bruce transforms into the Hulk.
The Hulk demonstrates some concern for Betty as he jumps away, despite having claimed in the past that he has no interest in her.
But before he can reflect on that, he notices himself getting weak, and finds it's the result of another gamma-spawned monster called Half-Life (not to be confused with Halflife from West Coast Avengers #12-13). Half-Life is a former English Professor (allowing Peter David to make literary puns)...
...who was actually killed during the gamma bomb blast that created him, but, similar to how Bruce Banner in his current state turns into the Hulk at night, he comes back to life at night. The Hulk tears him to pieces...
...but learns that Half-Life was killed by a different gamma bomb blast than the one that created the Hulk, and this one was set off last year in Colorado. This will turn into a major plot point in future issues.
Someone is seen waiting for Half-Life to crawl out of his grave at the beginning of this issue, but we don't learn who it is.
It's confirmed in the lettercol for issue #339 that it is the Leader.
The other news this issue is that it's confirmed that Rick Jones no longer has any traces of Hulkness in him, and John Laroquette quits the Hulkbusters.
Todd McFarlane's art gets a little rough at times....
...but the antagonistic dynamic between Bruce Banner and an intelligent, thuggish Hulk is really awesome and makes up for a lot.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: This issue begins with the Hulk having trapped Bruce Banner on top of a butte. It ends with Bruce having been trapped by the Hulk in a cave.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showArmand Martel, Betty Ross, Clay Quartermain, Doc Samson, Half-Life (Hulk villain), Hideko Takata, Hulk, Leader, Ramon (Betty Ross' boyfriend), Redeemer, Rick Jones, Rock
I was reading these in real-time as a little kid and was just fascinated by this era of Hulk. This was "my" Hulk, and when I was 12 and the merged Hulk was a thing, I was seriously depressed. Always had immense sympathy for Half-Life, who was very witty to my 9 year old brain.
Posted by: George Gordon | April 13, 2014 2:43 AM
Amazing Heroes #115 joke listing: "It's Not Easy Being Green" The Hulk teams up with Kermit the Frog.---Milgrom/Geiger/Rubinstein
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 13, 2014 5:13 PM
The revelation that an additional Gamma Bomb was built and detonated was an extremely clever and logical concept by David. He obviously uses this to great effect in his run on series overall, but it is especially chilling here, as we first learn about it. And David's creation of Half-Life helps sell the potential threat of such a weapon -- that it can kill and also create a terrifying monster -- which is completely honoring the spirit in which the series started while also moving it forward at the same time.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | July 2, 2015 2:05 PM
Bob McLeod did some uncredited inks here, as well.
Half-Life was a lot of fun. How many gamma bombs had been detonated by this point? The next big one is in #345.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | July 18, 2015 3:16 PM
That's a really weird looking butte.
Posted by: kveto | December 19, 2016 2:03 PM
Oh. My. God. Look at that butte.
Posted by: Andrew | December 19, 2016 5:14 PM
It's embarrassing that it took me this long to figure out that Samuel Sterns working in the morgue explains exactly how the he was able to recruit Half-Life despite lacking access to the Leader's resources.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | September 28, 2017 6:00 PM
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